detain

verb
de·​tain | \ di-ˈtān How to pronounce detain (audio) , dē-\
detained; detaining; detains

Definition of detain

transitive verb

1 : to hold or keep in or as if in custody detained by the police for questioning
2 obsolete : to keep back (something due) : withhold
3 : to restrain especially from proceeding was detained by a flat tire

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Other Words from detain

detainment \ di-​ˈtān-​mənt How to pronounce detainment (audio) , dē-​ \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for detain

keep, retain, detain, withhold, reserve mean to hold in one's possession or under one's control. keep may suggest a holding securely in one's possession, custody, or control. keep this while I'm gone retain implies continued keeping, especially against threatened seizure or forced loss. managed to retain their dignity even in poverty detain suggests a delay in letting go. detained them for questioning withhold implies restraint in letting go or a refusal to let go. withheld information from the authorities reserve suggests a keeping in store for future use. reserve some of your energy for the last mile

delay, retard, slow, slacken, detain mean to cause to be late or behind in movement or progress. delay implies a holding back, usually by interference, from completion or arrival. bad weather delayed our arrival retard suggests reduction of speed without actual stopping. language barriers retarded their progress slow and slacken also imply a reduction of speed, slow often suggesting deliberate intention medication slowed the patient's heart rate , slacken an easing up or relaxing of power or effort. on hot days runners slacken their pace detain implies a holding back beyond a reasonable or appointed time. unexpected business had detained her

Examples of detain in a Sentence

They were detained by the police for questioning. He claimed he had been illegally detained. Unexpected business had detained her.
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Recent Examples on the Web

On Wednesday, Peru was shocked when another former president, Alan García, fired a bullet into his head after police arrived at his home to detain him in a corruption probe. Ryan Dube, WSJ, "Former President’s Suicide Puts Peru Probes in Spotlight," 18 Apr. 2019 Ajoy Das, a local police official, said members of India’s Border Security Force provided them with food and blankets and later detained them before handing them over to police. Wasbir Hussain, The Seattle Times, "Indian police arrest 61 Rohingya Muslims this week," 22 Jan. 2019 The website of the U.S.-government funded Radio Free Asia cited an unnamed Luang Namtha police official saying that the three had been arrested but were not detained. Grant Peck, The Seattle Times, "Evangelical group says 3 US volunteers detained in Laos," 13 Apr. 2019 The case was named for 15-year-old Jenny Lisette Flores, who fled El Salvador in the 1980s and was detained trying to enter the U.S. Lynn Yaeger, Vogue, "The Week In Washington: “The Democrats Will Never Be Satisfied!”," 7 Apr. 2019 After a judge rejected prosecutors' appeal to detain him until trial, Ghosn paid 1 billion yen, or almost $9 million—in cash—and left the jail on Wednesday with a police escort. Liz Cantrell, Town & Country, "Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn Released on Bail in Japan," 6 Mar. 2019 Vietnam accepted at least 11 deportees, and the US began detaining Vietnamese immigrants who had final deportation orders. Dara Lind, Vox, "The shift would affect thousands of immigrants who’ve been ordered deported — generally for committing crimes — but not legal immigrants or citizens.," 12 Dec. 2018 But that's much shorter than the six months or a year many families were being held several years ago when the Obama administration began detaining mothers and children in a bid to stem a surge in arrivals on the border, Govindaiah said. CBS News, "Trump administration calls for expanded use of immigrant family detention," 23 June 2018 But that’s much shorter than the six months or a year many families were being held several years ago when the Obama administration began detaining mothers and children in a bid to stem a surge in arrivals on the border, Govindaiah said. Author: Amy Taxin, Anchorage Daily News, "Administration seeks to expand immigrant family detention," 23 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'detain.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of detain

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for detain

Middle English deteynen, from Anglo-French deteign-, stem of detenir, modification of Latin detinēre, from de- + tenēre to hold — more at thin

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Statistics for detain

Last Updated

6 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for detain

The first known use of detain was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for detain

detain

verb

English Language Learners Definition of detain

: to officially prevent (someone) from leaving a place : to hold or keep (someone) in a prison or some other place
formal : to keep or prevent (someone) from leaving or arriving at the expected time

detain

verb
de·​tain | \ di-ˈtān How to pronounce detain (audio) \
detained; detaining

Kids Definition of detain

1 : to hold or keep in or as if in prison The suspect was detained by police.
2 : to stop from going on : delay Snow detained our flight.
de·​tain

Legal Definition of detain

1 : to hold or keep in custody or possession property wrongfully detained a juvenile detained in a care facility
2 : to restrain from proceeding detained the driver and asked to see his license

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More from Merriam-Webster on detain

Spanish Central: Translation of detain

Nglish: Translation of detain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of detain for Arabic Speakers

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